Today makes one year since the day I stepped onto Lomé's weedy tarmac, gathered my two bags from a few airport workers whe ignored their metal detector's warning buzzes, and swore I'd never get used to the bright colors, loud music, and pervasive dirt. But I have. I've traded the black (or gray if I was feeling risqué) wardrobe of a New England grad student for wild patterns in red, orange, and purple. I wouldn't assume a restaurant was open or a taxi was in service without loud drumbeats blaring out. And I've learned to tolerate the grit of a bike ride, bush taxi voyage, or simple walk to my latrine as an unavoidable part of the day.
I called my mother 2 days ago to hear her voice one year after the day she and Dad dropped me off at the airport. She assured me that they were fine without me. In fact, my absence had calmed her nerves and she looked forward to another 15 months without me to work on her bloodpressure and stresss-induced sleep problems. OK, not really. She said she's counting down the days 'till September 27th, when I should be back home.
On the occasion of our first anniversary, I'd like to send a shout-out to my fellow trainees, some of the most quality people I have ever been around. I'd especially like to salute Meg, who's in the States, eating cheesecake in my absence, and having some medical tests run. Meg, I can't wait until you get back.
Happy Fathers' Day, Dad! You are the greatest!
Since today is Fathers' Day, I wrote a little essay about the family that lives next to me. Unfortunately, I am not sure I have time to type it before I need to search for a taxi to take me back to village from Kara. I really don't have any choice but to leave this evening, because I have to be at the Middle School tomorrow at 7AM in order to facilitate the celebration of Kids' Day.
I explained to a few villagers how we don't have Kids' Day in the States, and that parents always groan and say that every day is Kids' Day. Similarly, Togo does not have Fathers' Day, but I would like to point out that, in this patriarchial society, every day is Fathers' Day!
I am pleased to congratulate all those who are graduating this semester, especially the MDivs who entered graduate school with me. You are fantastic folks, and I can't wait to hear what wonderful things lie in your future.
For all those who are moving this summer, please let me know your new addresses. I need your contact information so I will know how to get in touch with you when you are rich and famous and I am living in a cardboard box on some slimy streetcorner.
Back from Exile
I tried to let you all know that I emerged safely from the two weeks we were ordered to lie low in village around the time of Togolese elections, but the internet was not cooperating. Thanks to Becky's diligent paying off taxidrivers to take me milk powder, peanut butter, and yogurt culture, I did not starve. It was a bit lonely not to see another American for two weeks, but I had the good fortune of a visit from a Kara missionary who wanted to see my village's bushrat husbandry project. That was a real treat.
As most of you probably heard from the radio, Togo's 35-year President was reelected for another five years. The BBC and Voice of America (VOA), to which I was addicted during my village exile, talked about a few protests, but I was sure nothing would happen as soon as it started raining. Nothing happens in Togo during the rain--not work, not play, and certainly not political revolutions. The only sounds in my village were the pitter-patter of drops on the roof after election results were announced.
I hope you are all well, and I would love to hear from you.